Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Houston Public Library logo

The mission of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC) is to locate, preserve, and make available to researchers the documentary evidence of Houston's history. HMRC is located in the historic Julia Ideson Building. Created in 1976, HMRC furthers its mission by providing in-depth reference services using materials including the Texas and local history book collection, archives, photographs, architectural drawings, oral histories, and maps. Librarians and Archivists are responsible for arranging, preserving, and indexing the contents of these unique collections.

HMRC collects books with priority given to materials focusing on Houston and Texas in the following categories: non-fiction, biographies and autobiographies, fiction, poetry, young adult and children’s materials, and government documents. The map collection concentrates on street maps for Texas communities, key maps for Harris and the surrounding counties, aerial photography maps of greater Houston, specialized book maps, and flood insurance rate maps. The archival collections focus on non-current records of local government, corporations, businesses, public and private associations, religious institutions, cultural and civic organizations, labor groups, educational institutions, and any other organization or group that has played a role in the development of Houston. HMRC also actively solicits the public and private papers of individuals whose records may shed light on important historical events or trends in the history of the area. Other notable holdings include:

  • Approximately 4 million photographs
  • 150,000 architectural drawings
  • 15,000 rare books and pamphlets in the John Milsaps Collection
  • Numerous rare books such as a 1520 edition of The Odyssey, a 15th century illuminated Book of Hours, and the Original Houston Town Lot Book
  • Over 300 rare maps of Houston and the Southwest
  • An extensive collection of oral histories, many of which are available through the Houston Oral History Project

Contact Information


View All Items